With Our Eyes Looking Up

New Will Come

While enjoying a walk with a friend on a cool, windy afternoon, I stopped to take a picture of dried out leaf petals hanging from thin stems of a tree. He asked me, “Why did you take a photo of that? What is it that you like about bare trees with old brown leaves?”

I think old brown leaves are beautiful. Every tree is a piece of art, wearing delicate leaves like jewelry. I like the frailty of the leaf petals that would crush easily in my hand, yet there is strength in each one with hanging on to the stem, even the brisk wind has not set it free. Look at each petal and see the life that lingers. I like the shimmer of sunlight through each petal. I love the different shades of brown and tan against a glorious bright blue sky. And I had to be looking up to see it, instead of looking down at the path we are walking on. When I notice the old dry and dying things, it makes me more aware that new will come. Don’t you see?

The wind was cold. My nose began to drip. He smiled and said, “I see.” We pulled our jackets tight around our neck and began to walk together with our eyes looking up.

New Will Come 3

 

 

Remembering him in my prayers

Remembering him in my prayers

Remembering him in my prayers | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 29

Today’s Reading: Ephesians 1 – end

Remembering you in my prayers…I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… Ephesians 1:15 – 23 (NIV)

Fast and furious, he maneuvers the skate board down the steep hill. The thrill of speed and wind and conquering the downhill ride is all that matters. He can do it! And he does this well…for days and weeks and months the adrenaline pulses with each victory. There is no fear of danger, just the triumph of victory over that hill.

And then one day, he crashes.

It’s the simple things that become the biggest thing that bends the knee. A deep cut, a nasty scrape to the head, a broken bone. The physical trauma becomes our spiritual cause to pray. And our prayers are fervent and relentless for his physical healing.

Years pass and he becomes a man baring those scars deep on his skin from the adventures that sent his parents to their knees. He is now a man, maturing through the resilience of pressing on, for he has been faced with much more than physical brokenness.

And then one day he crashes.

It’s the complex things that become the biggest thing that bend the knees to pray. His spiritual trauma becomes our cause to pray. Our prayers are fervent and relentless for a true vibrant grace-giving healing in his life.

The gift is answered through our prayers: “Father, grant him a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of yourself. Please, don’t leave him to himself. Help him to feel awe and trembling and sense your beauty and sweetness and glory. Have mercy and by your Spirit awaken in him a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that when he reads or hears your wisdom and your words he will have ears to hear and eyes to see the wonder of it.”

This is a prayer that keeps on praying and keeps on seeing God answer. Through the storms and through the fray he is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ better and better.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better... Ephesians 1:15 – 23 (NIV) 

Prayers for him

[1] An adapted prayer for my family from, Desiring God |  Be Constant in Prayer for the Joy of Hope

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Preoccupied With This Treasure

Jars of Clay 1

Preoccupied With This Treasure | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 27

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 1 – end

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)

“We have this treasure in jars of clay,” we being the jars of clay; God being the treasure inside of us, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. God calls, rescues, redeems the weak and broken so he is most glorified. We are simple, unadorned, and ordinary clay pots that God uses to bring glory to himself, yet the most persistent challenge we face is ourselves. We fear our own inadequacy more than we trust God’s sufficiency. We stumble into self-reliance, self-promotion, or self-loathing.

We need to be more preoccupied with this treasure. We need to look at the cross again and again. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves. Every time we look at the cross, Christ seems to say to us:

I am here because of you.
It is your sin I am bearing,
your curse I am suffering,
your debt I am paying,
your death I am dying.

The treasure within these jars of clay is the gospel of Christ. And this is what is encouraging:  We’re fragile; he is not. We are transient; he is not. We are weak; he is not. We need sleep; he does not. We grow weary; he does not. We lose patience; he does not. It is God’s all-surpassing power that is dramatically displayed through our weakness.

The gift is to be far more preoccupied with the treasure within than with the pressures without.

jars of clay 3

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
I’ve been writing a post everyday during this “40 Day Lent Challenge” and not only have I unwrapped a new wonderful gift everyday through daily readings, to write everyday has been the most challenging thing I have done in a while. Writing has been the best gift I’ve given myself in a long time. To be still, to think, to dream, to connect words on a page that have meaning and worth. Writing gives joy when we least expect it.  Writing is a gift…It is a gift handed to us from the Creator, the Writer of all good things true.

 

 

Faith, Hope, and Love

 

FAITH HOPE LOVE

Faith, Hope, and Love | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 26

Reflections on I Corinthians 9 – 16

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13

I write the words of this “communion” song in remembrance of a few hours of sweet fellowship and worship with good friends, as our voices filled a small sanctuary space with the melody and words of, “All I Have is Christ.”

And the love of Christ wrapped around us while we stood close together singing. Some voices cracking and some with perfect pitch and all of it was beautiful harmony.

I woke up early this morning with the words in my head and I quickly wrote them down.

The gift for me through out today is the greatest gift of all, God’s love, the greatest of all… “I beheld God’s love displayed…now all I know is grace.”

All I Have is Christ

I once was lost in darkest night, yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life, had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own a rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race, indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed, you suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me, now all I know is grace

Now Lord I would be Yours alone and live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
O Father use my ransomed life in any way you choose
And let my song forever be my only boast is You

Hallelujah all I have is Christ
Hallelujah Jesus is my life

All I Have Is Christ: Music and words by Jordan Kauflin © 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise

FAITH HOPE LOVE

 

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
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Three Things to Do When the Pain Won’t Quit

Romans 12:12

Three Things to Do When the Pain Won’t Quit

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)

I once wrote about the rough edges of a smooth life. I remember a chaotic and exhausted feeling from fighting a never-ending bout of nerve pain. I had to make an active choice to be joyful because choosing to be joyful while enduring serious pain is not a natural tendency for any of us. It was not easy to do. It required a lot of perseverance and clinging to hope. Not just the hope that this would end “right now!” but a deeper hope that all of this painful mess was designed for a greater good.

The more I focused on finding joy outside of myself and focusing on the presence of God, hope became a vibrant reality. This new-found hope is strengthening my patience to endure a little longer. One day at time…just a little longer, to be patient with this interruption in life named affliction.

So two of the things to do when the pain won’t stop is to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction. The third is to be faithful in prayer.

I’m not joyful and I’m not patient unless I am faithful in prayer. I don’t want to settle for mere relief when God is offering all of himself. It’s because of this relentless discomfort that I am praying more. Not just praying for myself but for family, friends, for people I haven’t met yet, for the city I live in, for the church where I worship and serve, and for the community of relationships I have across the world serving in Haiti, Togo, Mexico, the Ukraine, Thailand, the Philippines, Belarus, Indonesia, Uganda…I know there are more. This is becoming a worship experience during the very early hours of morning when the sky is still dark and everyone else is sleeping.

Three things to do…and all three are gifts from God, comforting us in our heart-of-hearts, giving us much more than better circumstances.

Be joyful in hope
Be patient in affliction
Be faithful in prayer

Romans 12:12 2

A Staggering Promise

A Staggering Promise 1

A Staggering Promise |40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 23

Reflections on Romans 1 – 8

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28 (ESV)

There is a promise written above. It is staggering in size and should fill a searching heart with answers and real hope. Read it again and let it sink deep into your mind. There are two words that jump off the page when I consider this promise. Two words: all things.

All things mean all things. All things mean the good, the bad, the horrible, the wonderful, the tragic, the beautiful, the painful, and everything else.

The infinitely wise, infinitely powerful God pledges to make everything beneficial to his people. [1] From where we stand, we can’t see whether it’s something good or bad. All we can see is that God’s sovereign and He is always good, working all things for good. [2]

Once you walk through the door of love into the massive, unshakable structure of Romans 8:28 everything changes. The crashing and burning and just plain running out of gas may be what is needed for your roots of faith to dig deeper into this promise. There comes into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply can’t be blown over any more. The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an absolutely incomparable refuge and security and hope and power in your life. [3]

Whatever You may do, I will thank You.
I am ready for all; I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me…
And I’ll ask for nothing else, my Lord.
~Charles de Foucauld

A Staggering Promise 2

[1] John Piper  [2] Ann Voskamp  [3]  Adapted from personal journal notes of a sermon by John Piper. Also, the comment, “crashing and burning and just plain running out of gas” is a quote I recall from reading the book, Stitches by Anne Lamott

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

More Blessed to Give

Blessed to Give 3

More Blessed to Give

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 21

Reflections on Acts 18 – 23

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.   Acts 20: 35 – 38

Here he is, telling his friends goodbye and reminding them to remember how Jesus lived his life…a life of giving the ultimate sacrifice for others. For you see, this man, Paul, especially knows what’s it like to receive a gift. He is a living testimony of how much the King of Kings gave to him. He was rescued while traveling on a road towards  murder and mayhem. He was already blind in darkness before the righteous blinding of God’s redeeming grace slayed his soul to its knees. He didn’t ask for this grace…he didn’t know that he needed to be rescued. He would not have chosen to see the way of Christ on his own, he would not have asked for the gift of grace on his own…so God chose him to receive it. And now because he has experienced the reality of being rescued with pure glorious light that broke into his darkness, he is truly free to give and give and give some more.

Don’t you see? It’s because we have received much that we are able to give much!

Blessed to Give 1

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge